One of two candidates hoping to be Salem’s next mayor, Chuck Bennett is already serving his 9th year as Ward 1’s city councilor. While councilors have 4-year terms, mayors serve two years. They represent and guide the city and are ‘the first among equals’ on the Salem City Council.
“I’m very proud of several accomplishments I’ve had as a city councilor,” Bennett says, “including public-private activities that have brought over 200 new residents downtown; the soon-to-be developed bike boulevards on Union, Maple, and Winter streets; launching the State Street revitalization project; railroad quiet zones to be completed this year along both rail lines through the city [and] the addition of Sunday Library service.”
Bennett has also led efforts to complete work on the Union Street pedestrian bridge and launching the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge.
Bennett moved to Salem from the Spokane area in 1966 to attend college, and says that he has never wanted to leave. He graduated in 1970 from Willamette University with a degree in English; in the 70’s he covered city hall as a reporter for the Salem Capitol Journal newspaper and he served as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives in the 1980s.
For the past 15 years he has worked as Director of Government Relations for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.
A believer in civic participation, Bennett notes that, “My public service on boards ranges widely, from Oregon Council on the Humanities, to Pentacle Theater, to Friends of Opal Creek, and beyond.”
After all these years, Bennett is convinced of Salem’s possibilities. It’s “a great place to get involved,” he says. “Whether it’s government, music, theater, church, travel, or sport; you name your interest or passion and you can get directly involved and make a real difference in your life and the community.”
In his work as councilor for Ward 1, Bennett describes his technique for reaching consensus as straightforward; “I listen to my colleagues and the public, candidly share my views and ideas, and work hard to achieve common ground.”
The most striking difference between Bennett and his opponent, businesswoman Carole Smith, he says, is his “experience and knowledge of city government and record of getting public project after project off the ground or completed.”
As he looks to his priorities for his first mayoral term, Bennett describes himself as “very excited” about “providing leadership in the redevelopment of the three urban renewal districts that are coming online.” He notes that major projects in west, north and downtown Salem will begin over the next couple of years.
“It’s critical to continue working with the state on our shared interests on the north campus of the state hospital and the Mill Creek Industrial Site,” he says.
Finally, Bennett wants “to provide a unifying and positive attitude at City Hall that invites new or differing ideas on how city government serves our community.”